BOOKS  

Lost for Words (or a Word)
In English there does not appear to be a generic word for village, town and city. In fact this very question was posed on the internet and the conclusion was reached that there is not such a word although some words were suggested such as community, settlement and a number of others. However it was generally felt that these words had other connotations so none were generally found to be satisfactory. It was felt furthermore that what might be found suitable in Britain would not be so in the USA, Australia and other English speaking countries. I suspect too that a suitable word in England would not be suitable in Scotland.
The RCHM divides Britain into counties, the counties into hundreds (an long obsolete term) and the hundreds into parishes. That last word is probably the most satisfactory for our purpose here. I am aware there are ecclesiastical parishes and civil parishes and their boundaries do not always - as you might expect - correspond. But - as Mr Holmes would say: 'when you eliminated the totally unsatisfactory, whatever remains, even if not quite ideal, must be the word'
 
   Books are essential when compiling a gazetteer such as this: first the monuments need to be found and then, especially as I am no expert in the subject but rather an amateur dabbler, information about them must then be gathered. However, first of all the books themselves must be found. There are basically two types of source books: one being books solely about church monuments and the other being books about other subjects - such as architecture - which have reasonable - and sometimes detailed - information about monuments. There is now the internet too: however there are many errors on the internet and it is difficult to discover which entries are  accurate and which are not. However the internet is particularly useful for being able to access books and papers which are difficult or impossible to obtain, and especially those we might initially have been unaware of. The Victoria County Histories are now available on line as are the Royal Commission on Historical Mounuments, about which more later. These statements seem to say that books are accurate while the internet is not: this is to some extent true as anyone can write anything they wish on the internet whereas books are proof read, edited and generally combed through before they are published. This latter statement is also not strictly correct or there would not be so many errors in the Pevsner series, about which more later.

A Note of Caution

  Many of these books are old - some very much so - and the information in them often needs to be revised in the light of modern research. But we do have to tread carefully here as this subject is not a rigorous scientific one. Many revisions are the result of very careful research and sound reasoning while many are not: sometimes a whole complex theory is built up from the flimsiest and most ambigous of evidence as well as the most flawed reasoning, often in order to 'get published' as soon as possible.
  Then there is the 'generation game': I remember at university how we, the young,  rejected, often with a smile or sneer, the ideas of the older generation as being old fashioned, unscientific, not evidence based; what we are being taught is new and everything it should be. Now that which I was taught is being regarded in exactly the same manner by the newly arrived generation, who promote their own 'new' ideas, which are often not so new but revised views of those we had rejected!


  The Monumental Brass Society is progressively working on a series of county books about, it need hardly be added, their subject of study. These books are magnificent, almost Victorian in their concenpt, as they list every brass, not just the very fine ones but even those very simple brasses which often go unnoticed, such as those small rectangles of brass screwed to the back of chairs. The books are profusely illustrated but the text is almost in note form, but that is all that is really needed. Those who conceived this series of books and continue to compile them must be congratulated. 

   I regret to say 
that there is nothing similar  about church monuments; that is to say there are no volumes which have been produced as a county series solely about church monuments. There are certainly a number of books about church monuments in general, some beautifully illustrated with photographs, etchings, engravings and lithographs; there are also books about specific monuments such as wooden tombs, alabaster tombs, military monuments, some of these listing as many monuments as could be discovered. There are, in fact, a few single county books but these, with one exception, are not particularly well illustrated; the exception is Chancellor's Essex, a massive and hefty book wonderfully illustrated with lithographs of drawings but you will have to carry it in the boot of a car rather than your pocket! More on this subject later.

 
 
Books Specifically About Church Monuments

   There are a number of such books and more are appearing all the time. I will only deal with a handful here. Some are beautifully illustrated while others have no illustrations at all, or very few. I have presented the various books in type and then in order of publication date.
 
Weever's Ancient Funerall Monuments was probably the first book to be published solely about church monuments. John Weever (1576-1632) was an English antiquarian whose interest in church monuments was evident in his earlier work. He made a lengthy survey of the inscriptions on monuments in the dioceses of Canterbury, Rochester, and Norwich. He did not, however, make any sketches of the monuments nor did he record heraldry or genealogy. So from those latter aspects the book is probably not of great interest; however Weever does record epitaphs which have since been lost. His book was published in 1631.

John Weever died the following year, 1632, and was buried in St James, Clerkenwell. A monument was constructed to his memory which was destroyed when the church was demolished in 1788, despite efforts of the Society of Antiquaries whose intervention failed to save it.

As mentioned no sketches were made of the monuments at the time of the survey but there are eighteen woodcuts in the book, which were probably supplied by other antiquaries at a later date for publication.
Gough's Sepulchral Monuments of Great Britain. Richard Gough (1735-1809) was another English antiquary. His book about church monuments was a major and thorough study and was formally titled    Sepulchral Monuments in Great Britain Applied to llustrate the History of Families, Manners, Habits and Arts at the Different Periods from the Norman Conquest to the Seventeeth Century. Volume I was in two parts and dealt with the first four centuries; part I was published in 1786, part 2 in 1796. Volume II consisted of three parts and dealt with the fifteenth century: they all were published in 1796.
This work is a fine and detailed example of historical and topographical research and contains many illustrations in the form of engravings. However Gough was not an artist so employed a number of artists to execute the initial drawings and  the final engravings. Many of these are innaccurate and many rather coarsley produced. The work never did reach the seventeenth century, ending at the fifteenth.
These books are big, measuring 1' 2" X 1' 8", and heavy.

more to follow
  Rev Charles Boutell, MA. Christian Monuments in England and Wales. (Published by George Bell, London. 1854)
  The secondary title of this book is An Historical and Descriptive Sketch of the Various Classes of Sepulchral Monuments which have been in Use in this Country from about the Era of the Norman Conquest to the Time of Edward IV.
 
After the massive works of Gough and Stothard, this small book of  6⅟₂" X 9¾" and of 156 pages may come as something of a surprise.
 
The book is divided into two main sections: 'I. Stone coffins, stone coffin lids, and monumental slabs, all of which are devoid of effigies, and, section II. Semi-effigial monuments.' The book is very well illustrated with many excellent drawings, which  were executed by the author. In the introduction Mr  Boutell promises three further sections: 'III. On monumental effigies, such as display the entire figure; IV. On altar tombs or high tombs  and monumental canopies; and V. On head stones and other church yard memorials, including general observations on modern monuments.' These three sections do not appear in this book and may have been planned for future publication; however, nothing further did appear.
  Rev Charles Boutell (1812-1877) was an archaeologist, antiquarian, author and clergyman who wrote books on arms and armour and  heraldry as well as on church monuments and brasses. He illustrated many of his own works and  frequently lectured on his subjects.
  He was the son of Rev Charles Boutell, perpetual curate* of Repps-with-Bastwich from1808 until 1848. Charles the Younger gained the degree of BA at St John's College, Cambridge in 1834 and that of MA at Trinity College, Oxford two years later. He was briefly curate* at Hemsby, Norfolk and later at St Leonard's, Sandridge, Norfolk from 1837-1846 where in 1839 he was ordained priest. He appears to have briefly  taken two other posts before becoming    Rector* of Downham Market from 1847-1850 and from 1847-1855 Vicar* of Wiggenhall, both in Norfolk. Then in 1855 he moved to London and took a number of posts, including Reader of Lower Norwood, Surrey from 1860-1877.
  In 1845 he became one of the two secretaries of the newly formed St Albans and Hertfordshire Architectural Society, their first meeting being held at Sandridge. He was treasurer for two years but unfortunately this Society reported that 'he had the habit of publishing books financed by the Society's funds.' He was one of the two founders of the London and Middlesex Archaeological Society in 1855, becoming Hon Sec in 1857 but was very shortly dismissed for 'improper book keeping' involving the sum of £56.15 which had been received in subscriptions.
  A similar 'lapse' was said to have occurred in the Surrey Archaeological Society, but I can find no direct evidence of  this. In 1868 he was imprisoned for debt and later declared bankrupt.
  In his defence I should like to add that he was not a man of independent means and any money he may have acquired he used for the publication of his excellent books which he wrote and illustrated to bring his particular knowledge to the general public. His works on heraldry were very successful and remained in print - in revised editions - for very many years after his death. One of these is still in print today. Other books - including this one - are available as  facsimiles (above).

* These terms will (in due course) be explained in the glossary.
  Fred H Crossley, FSA. English Church Monuments A.D. 1150-1550. (Published by B T Batsford, London. 1921)
 The secondary title of this book is An Introduction to the Study of Tombs and Effigies of the Medieval Period.
 
We now come to a period of the twentieth century when photography had been around for a century but had become more practical when George Eastman invented the 'safety' roll film. So it is not suprising that photography would replace drawings reproduced by photo-lithography  as the latter had replaced etching as a means of the reproduction of images of church monuments.
  This book deals with roughly the same period as Charles Boutell's book and is divided into three main chapters which after a detailed general introduction, deals with The Architectural Decoration of Tombs and Chantry Chapel and Effigies and Costumes. Each chapter is then subdivided into a number of sections dealing with such subjects as the change of style over the years of the monuments as well as of dress and armour, heraldy, the materials used in the construction of monuments, contracts for monuments, associated metalwork, and brasses.
  There is useful glossary of terms but this is unfortunatley combined with the index, a feature which can never really work all that well.
  The book is illustrated with a large number of excellent photographs taken by Mr Crossley himself and which he rightly considers more important than increasing the amount of text at the expense of illustrations.
   Frederick Herbert Crossley (1868-1955) was a Yorkshireman but travelled early to Cheshire to become an apprentice farmer. He later studied at Manchester School of Art and became an instructor in drawing, wood carving and design in Cheshire. Church arcitecture became his great interest and he would travel the country making sketches and taking photographs of his subject. He accepted commissions for designing and actually carving church wood work. He served on a number of committees which were concerned with the repair, restoration and preservation of churches.
  He wrote a number of books for the publisher Batsford which specialised in books about topography, architecture and other non-fiction subjects. As well as the above, his titles included English Church Woodwork, The English Abbey and Timber Framed Buildings.

† The first roll film was introduced in 1885 on a paper backing. In 1889 this was replaced by a plastic one, the highly flammable nitrocellulose. The later 'safety' film simply meant that the backing plastic no longer had this dangerous property
more to follow
 
County Books Specifically About Church Monuments

  As mentioned above there are a few such books specifically about church monuments but the majority of these are not well illustrated.

  Chancellor's The Ancient Sepulchral Monuments of Essex (1890) (Published by Messrs Edmund Durrant  Co. Chelmsford)

 
Frederic Chancellor FRIBA (1825-1918) was an architect, archaeologist, and antiquarian as well as being the first Mayor of Chelmsford, Essex; he later served six further terms in office.  His architectural practice was based in that town and he also had a branch office in London . His son, Fredric Wykeham Chancellor BA (1865-1945) later became a partner in his father's practice. There is a building in Chelmsford designed by Frederic Chancellor, originally intended as an art school and museum, which is called the Frederic Chancellor Building in his honour.

  This book is very large (16" X 12" X 3½" ) and heavy, containing  full descriptions of the monuments, their position in the church, the materials of which they were made, any inscriptions, heraldry, family histories, genealogical tables and, most importantly, full page drawings of all of them. None of these were actually carried out by Mr Chancellor, although he did  visit the churches and study the monuments himself,  but were executed by a number of artists: John Shewell Corder, Frank Brown, Fred Oliphant, Ernest A Coxhead, Arthur Kent, and F E L Harris. Sometimes J S Corder and F Brown appear to have worked together although the majority of the work was carried out by John Corder. One is signed by F. Wykeham Chancellor, Fred's son and two are unsigned. All of these artists  were architects (at one point Fred Oliphant adds ARIBA after his name) so it is not surprising that the drawings have an architectural feel about them, but they are certainly none the worse for that; so we see plans, elevations, renderings of certain details and examples of the lettering as well as the monument's measurements. The printing was carried out by C F Kell, photo-lithographer of London, who may well be the rather obscure subject of the link.

  Below is a drawing of a church building restoration undertaken Mr Chancellor's practice and which is signed  Fred Chancellor.


 
  H R Mosse, MD. The Monumental Effigies of Sussex  (1250 to 1650) (Published by Comridges, Hove, Sussex. 1928)
  After F Chancellor's massive work on the county of Essex, this little book provides rather an extreme contrast: it measures 4¼" X 6¾" and has 198 pages. There is only one photograph plus four small diagrams of armour, ecclesiastical dress and an heraldic shield. There is a very short introduction, then a list of geographic distribution of the effigies, listed not initially alphabetically but divided, rather unhelpfully by archdeaconry and then subdivided by rural deanery; this is followed by a chronological list and then by the diagrams mentioned above. The main text which follows is, however,  in the alphabetical order of parish.
  By the term effigy is meant both sculptured figures (referred to here as statuary) as well as incised brasses, so what is not included are monuments that do not contain any such representation.
  The main list gives very detailed information. For each entry the name of the dedication of the church is given and then the entry is divided into paragraphs giving, where known, the material of the effigy, the  name of the person commemorated, the position in the church, a detailed description of the effigy, any heraldry, any inscription, a history of the person commemorated, and references.
  There are then two appendices: the first gives details of terms, symbols, costume, armour, and a few other such items; the second gives details of heraldry which had been introduced in the main section. There is finally a general index.
  Dr H R Mosse MD was presumably a hospital based physician who had a special interest in archaeology. He was probably based in Sussex. There is a reference to an obituary of an H R Mosse MD in the British Medical Journal of July 11th 1942, and this may well refer to the same man.
 
   




more to follow
  Books on Specific Types of Church Monuments
 
  Alfred C Fryer, PhD, FSA. Wooden Monumental Effigies in England and Wales (Published by Elliot Stock, London. 1924)
  In the preface the author writes that he presented a paper on Wooden Monumental Effigies to the Society of Antiquaries in 1908 and that this was subsequently published as a single volume with a number of photographs, the majority of which had been taken by the author himself. This second edition was published fifteen years later, after the discovery of two more such effigies; this new edition contains all the original photographs with the addition of twenty-one more taken by Dr Fryer and eleven taken by Arthur Gardner which he was given permission to use.
 The book is divided into three main parts: an Introduction to the subject; Earlier Effigies to the Black Death; and, Revial of Wooden Effigies. There then follows a detailed Topographical Index or glossary, arranged by counties. Finally there is a general index.
  There are seventy-seven photographs arranged in a number of plates distributed throughout the book.
  Alfred Cooper Fryer PhD, FSA (1855 - 1937) was born in Manchester but spent his working life in Bristol. He was a writer, chemist and archaeologist, writing many books and articles on archaeological subjects but he also wrote poems and children's books.


 
 William M I'Anson, FSA. The Medieval Military Effigies of Yorkhire. (The Yorkshire Archaeological Society, Leeds. 1928)
  This is a paper bound reprint of two articles that Mr I'Anson wrote for the Yorkshire Archaeological Society's Journal; part I appearing in Volume XXVIII in 1926 and part 2 in Volume XXIX in 1929. The preface was written by J G Mann, MA, BLitt, FSA in which we are told Mr I'Anson had intended to publish a work on the medieval effigies of all England but this project was brought to a premature close by a  fire at his home which sadly destroyed his library together with all his notes and drawings. He concluded that he could never replace the lost material so reduced the scope of his intended work to those effigies in Yorkshire.
  In the introduction Mr I'Anson tell us that his intention is to divide the book into six separate sections dealing with the various types of armour which developed over the decades. I have to mention here that there is not an exact correlation between armour and date. The author initially describes what body armour consists of and how it developed. There are many small drawings both on plates and throughout the book in the main text. These are not only of armour from Yorkshire but elsewhere (such as the Temple Church) if this is required to illustrate the text; the drawings are by Mr I'Anson himself and quite small  - no more than 4" - but nevertheless more than adequate. This is followed by Chapter one, which contains Section I, which Mr I'Anson calls the 'Chain Mail and Surcoat Period'. The effigies are listed according to their alleged date rather than their site, which is not particularly helpful.
  Part two continues with Section II which is described as 'The First Transitional Period'. The other parts were never completed as Mr I'Anson sadly died before even Part 2 was printed.
  William M I'Anson FSA was a Yorkshireman who lived in Saltburn where he was engineer in the Cleveland Water Works. He published many articles in the Yorkshire Archaelogical Journal, many concerned with the castles of his home county. He died before 1928.
  W. E. Hamilton. Memorials of the Wars of the Roses (Published by Alan Sutton Publishing Ltd, Gloucester for The Richard III Society, Upminster, Essex. 1979)
  This books does exactly what its title says: it lists over four hundred and fifty monuments and burial places of those associated with the Wars of the Roses, some of which sites, as the author states in the preface are conjectural although every attempt has been made to be as accurate as possible. It then lists in alphabetical order of county and then of parish in which these sites and monuments are located, giving very full information of the latter if they still exist as well as about the commemorated, some of whom may be unknown to those not familiar with this period of history.
  There is an index of the people commemorated but I wonder if the book should have been written in order of the commemorated rather than the place where they are buried. There is also a short glossary of terms and extensive bibliography.
  It is curious that this book, published for the Richard III Society, does not mention the burial place of  the King himself, which was accurately recorded  even if his actual grave - although not his monument - was not to be discovered for many years. His epitaph is not mentioned either; this did not survive, although a copy of it does and this is well described here
  There are a number of illustrations using photographs together with reproductions of drawings and etchings. However some of these - especially the photographs and the etchings of C A Stothard - have not been reproduced well. This is unfortunate in an otherwise 'good idea' and an interesting book.


 

more to follow
 
General Books
Which are, nevertheless, an excellent source of information about church monuments
 
 
The Royal Commission of Historical Monuments of England
Scotland
and Wales

   Governments are not noted for their foresight, ability to learn from the past, or the understanding of all the ramifications of what they are about to do. They are the very people who should be capable of this, of course,  but their actions, as we have seen only too often, can lead to chaos and even disaster. But occasionally, although unintentionally, their actions can lead to the proverbial 'good thing'. One of these good things was the birth of the Royal Commission of Historical Monuments of England (hereafter RCHM (Eng)). This is how it happened.

   In 1882 the government passed the laudable Ancient Monuments Protection Act and this was followed by the even more laudable and wider ranging Ancient Monuments Protection Act of 1900. All very commendable, of course, and the government had the best of intentions in passing these acts but, as  is often the case, the government had not actually thought it through.

   The problem was that no one had identified quite which ancient or historic monuments should  be covered by this protection legislation because  the government had not  thought about that simple but important point. This was pointed out by David Murray in Archaeological Survey of the United Kingdom (1896) and a little later by Gerard Baldwin Brown (right) in Care of Ancient Monuments (1905). Brown stated what should have been obvious, although clearly had not been so to the government, and that was in order for the legislation to be effective a detailed list of monuments needed to be compiled. The Learned Societies (such as the British Archaeological Association) also lobbied for action to be taken. Gerard Brown  proposed that the issues should be addressed by a Royal Commission.

  A Royal Commission is an ad-hoc formal public enquiry. It has powers much greater than those of a judge but which are restricted to the terms of reference. It is created by the Head of State (in Britain,  the Monarch) on the advice of the government and formally appointed by letters patent. Once begun a Royal Commission cannot be stopped by the government.

  Gerard Baldwin Brown's and the Learned Societies' proposal did not go unheeded and a Royal Commission was granted by Royal Warrant in 1908. In that year the Royal Commission of Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, the Royal Commission of the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales and finally the Royal Commission of the Historical Monuments of England were all established with a short interval between the three. Thus the Commission covered Britain but not the United Kingdom. The commissioners were appointed by the various learned societies and other interested bodies and individuals. So the RCHM (England) was born in 1908.

  Cut-off dates were set for what was to be recorded: the start date was  'the earliest times', not a limit at all really, but  what was the finish date to be?  Initially this was set at 1700, a nice round figure, but a later warrant of 1913 reset this this limit to fourteen years later at somewhat awkward date of 1714, the date of the death of Queen Anne, that is, the end of the Stuart dynasty. Of course all dates are quite arbitrary so none can be correct so a later warrant of 1946 gave the Commissioners discretion to go beyond 1714 but with a discretionary terminal date of 1850, a century and a half later than the initial set date. As it was to turn out only one complete county (Dorset) and two towns (Stamford and Cambridge) were to benefit from this later date.

  The work started well with the publication of the very first inventory in 1910: this was Hertfordshire (left) and was contained in a single volume. And just the job it proved to be! The work began as it was to continue for the next ninety odd years with some variations. Hertfordshire contains St Albans Cathedral: the RCHM would, with a few exceptions, tend to avoid cathedrals in the future.

   The individual volumes
were, until the final days, hardbacks measuring 10¾" X 8¼" and bound in gray or red cloth. The inventories were to be published county by county; for some counties (like the very first Hertfordshire) the inventories occupied  single volumes but for others, especially when the cut-off date was extended, they occupied more than one, and some of the volumes were even published in several parts. Each separate volume was concerned with an arbitrary geographical region rather than following the previous one alphabetically so that, unless your geography was first rate, finding an individual village or town could be a little difficult. However it did ensure that the volumes appeared at regular intervals rather than waiting for the whole county to be have been surveyed.

  Each book
followed a similar pattern. Inside the back cover a flap housed a folded coloured map of the area covered of the relevant county and beautiful coloured folded plans of any cathedral or large building that was being described in the text. There are then several introductory sections, which always followed the same form, before the actual inventory began: i) A list of plans and illustrations. ii) A short preface. iii) Material related to the Royal Commission. This included a list of those monuments deemed 'especially worthy of preservation.' iv) Sectional Preface, this was an overview of what was to follow in the inventory. v) A large (about 70 plus plates) section composed entirely of photographs arranged according to monument type. v) A list of hundreds and parishes of the whole county; those which were in that particular volume were italized. vi) Then the inventory itself, by far the largest section of course. This will be dealt with below. vii) A short list of relevant heraldry viii) A well produced glossary of terms, and finally, ix) The index. This was not sectional.

  The inventory proper
was arranged in alphabetical order of the individual parishes. Each individual parish, following a general introduction, was then divided into several individual sections, some of which might not always be applicable: these were a) Prehistoric monuments and earthworks. b) Roman monuments and Roman Earthworks. c) English ecclesiastical monuments. d) English secular monuments. e) Unclassified monuments. These sections were further divided into subsections, for example, a church would be divided thus: a) A general introduction. b) The architecture of each part of the building described separately. c) The fittings which were further  divided alphabetically into: Bells, Brackets, Brasses and indents, Chairs, Coffin lids or slabs, Communion Table, Doors, Font, Glass, Monuments and floor slabs; not all of these would be present, of course, and there may well be others as the situation required. This was  strictly logical but it might be found slightly irritating that church monuments appeared in three different subsections; however if you keep this in mind there is not insurmountable.

  The great beauty of these RCHM books were the excellent and large amount of illustrations. There were many photographs, all of a remarkably good quality bearing in mind some of these books are now more than a century old, which occurred, apart from those mentioned above, scattered throughout the book in batches of plates. Then there were drawings, maps (some pull out), plans of the buildings and streets, diagrams all scattered throughout the pages. This was quite the right approach: reading descriptions of a church monument (or anything else for that matter) can eventually become tedious and produce an inaccurate picture in your mind. After all, 'what use is a book without pictures?'

  The next county
to appear was Buckinghamshire which was published in two volumes, North, and South; these were published 1912-1913. Essex was next and this appeared in in four volumes, North-West, Central & South-West,  North-East, and South East. These appeared 1916-1923, there being no pause during World War I. This was a major work with everything proceeding according to plan. Essex was followed by an even more ambitious work when London was published 1924-1930 in five volumes. One volume was devoted to Westminster Abbey alone while St Paul's Cathedral appeared in the volume devoted to the City. The one volume covering Huntingdonshire seemed to sneak in during 1926 in the midst of the publication of the London volumes. Huntingdonshire no longer exists at the time of writing but may make a come back one of these days. This volume did not contain the elusive Soke of Peterborough with Peterborough Cathedral. Herefordshire came next and this was published in three volumes between 1931-1934. This work contained Hereford Cathedral. The work was still proceeding very well and according to plan; you might have felt you would have to wait more than a life time to see the work completed but better that than a rushed and thus inaccurate and incomplete work. In 1936 Westmoreland was published in one volume. Westmoreland also no longer exists being combined with Cumberland (with Carlisle Cathedral) in the 1970's to produce Cumbria. Cumberland was never published. The next volume to be published was Middlesex in 1937. Middlesex was absorbed by neighbouring counties in 1965. They still have a cricket team and remember Denis Compton, however. Following this the RCHM changed their approach somewhat and published The City of Oxford in 1939 as a separate volume; this included Christ Church Cathedral. The County of Oxfordshire was never published

  Work on the inventories ended with the outbreak of World War II and the RCHM was, understandably, to remain silent for several years after the war.

  Then they returned with what seemed like a new confidence and  certainly with a flourish. Everything was now as it was before (but even better) and as it should have been. The county inventories continued with Dorset which began in 1952 and was not completed until 1975. Dorset was contained in five volumes, one of which had two and another three parts. This is a magnificent work and certainly their magnum opus. On the shelf the width of all the volumes is a little over 11 inches. A county with no cathedral, of course. These were the first of the RCHM volumes that I bought and they were quite reasonably priced at the time. But was this the beginning of the end of these inventories?

  We had become accustomed to complete counties arriving at regular intervals but Dorset proved to be the last to do so. From now on counties were begun but never completed and then eventually the volumes published  were no longer in the form of the familiar inventories.
  
  During the work on the Dorset volumes The City of Cambridge appeared in 1959. This was published in two volumes and there was also a box of maps to accompany the books. Again during the Dorset publications   two volumes covering parts of the County of Cambridgeshire was published 1968 - 1972. Cambridgeshire was never completed so we were never to see an inventory of Ely Cathedral.

  Another massive work was begun again during the work on Dorset. This was The City of York which was begun in 1962 and completed, well it was never completed; the last volume - Volume Five: The Central Area - was published in 1981. I was living near York at this time and I remember buying Volume Five from a bookshop in Petersgate. I - and almost certainly many others - eagerly awaited the next volume, Volume Six, which would certainly cover the Minster. What did happen is described below.

  When the last of the Dorset volumes was published in 1975 the RCHM moved on to Northamptonshire and published several volumes, the last appearing in 1986. However the RCHM seemed somehow to have lost its way as Volume I concerned the Archaeological Sites in North-East Northamptonshire. Volume II was about those in Central Northamptonshire, Vol III in North-West Northamptonshire and Volume IV in South-West Northamptonshire. What on earth was actually going on here? These volumes must surely  have been of considerably less appeal than the previous superb inventories and this is borne out by the fact that you can still buy these volumes quite new and in their original unopened box from second hand book dealers. Did someone in authority perhaps deliberately plan these books knowing that they would sell poorly and then announce, with some truth, that the project was losing money so that the RCHM could be justifiably be wound down? Then the RCHM changed its way again: Volume V was Archaeological Sites and Churches in Northampton but this was, for the first time, a paperback volume and, although the churches were listed and described, with the usual drawings, plans and photographs as before, the actual inventories appear on three microfiche sheets in the back pocket with the maps. Unfortunately I have never been able to examine these. Was this volume destined for libraries where there are microfiche readers? If so a paperback binding is really not robust enough for this purpose. In the introduction to this volume it is explained that the book appeared is this form,  meaning paperback and microfiche, because of the high cost of hard back book production to the very high standard with which we had become familiar. More paperbacks were to follow but we can be thankful that this was the first and last venture into microfiche. But then in 1985 a RCHM book in the style with which we were familiar arrived: this was Northamptonshire Vol VI: the Architectural Monuments of North Northamptonshire. Not quite as of old: all of the photographs were  gathered at the end of the volume rather than some being at the beginning with many scattered through the book ,and there was no pocket at the back full of maps and plans. Never mind: they're back! Unfortunately no more volumes appeared.

   In 1976 during the production of the Northamptonshire volumes the first - and, as it turned out, the last - of the Gloucestershire Volumes was published: Volume I: Iron Age and Romano-British Monuments in the Gloucestershire Cotswolds. But we never saw any further volumes.

  At the same date there were published two town/city inventories: An Inventory of the  Historical Monuments in the Town of Stamford, and Ancient and Historical Monuments in the City of Salisbury  Volume I. This  latter covered the area of the former municipal borough, exclusive of the cathedral close and its walls and gates, but  included Old Sarum castle and cathedral, but not Salisbury Cathedral as was anticipated.

   And that was that according to the Google list of counties covered by the RCHM ...although not quite as more were to follow.

   Many including myself must have been eagerly awaiting City of York - Volume VI: The Minster. In 1985 there appeared
E
xcavations at York Minster Volume II, followed in 1995 by Volume I. This latter was a very fine publication indeed, consisting of two separate parts in a slipcase. It was also a whopping £100.00! These were all of interest and beautifully produced by the RCHM so we eagerly awaited the inventory volume. It never appeared: instead York Minster: An Architectural History 1220-1500 was published  in  2003  no longer by the RCHM but by English Heritage, which had swallowed up the former organization in 1999. An excellent book with superb photographs and drawings, but, sorry I'm afraid this is not what we had been waiting for and just would not do. Volume VI had been in preparation it appears but was never completed.

  Wiltshire did not fare well itself but far better than Hampshire, and many other counties, cities, towns and villages, which did not fare at all. I mention Hampshire because I was looking forward to a possible Winchester Cathedral inventory. In 1987 was published a stand alone paperback: Churches of South-East Wiltshire. This was very much in the high standard of the RCHM with superb photographs, drawings, plans, and maps but was not an inventory at all. However the churches were listed and described individually. In the same year was published another Salisbury volume: Salisbury: the Houses in the Close. Again this was a paperback and again the illustrations were of the highest standard. It was followed by Salisbury Cathedral. Perspectives of the Architectural History in 1996; again a paperback and again very well produced: there was even a folded plan of the cathedral in an attempt at a pocket attached inside the rear cover. But worse was to come: in 1999 appeared Sumptous and Adorn'd: the Decorations of Salsbury Cathedral. Now, apart from the layout following the unsatisfactory thematic form, even the title was quite unsatisfactory: no longer Salisbury Vol Something. And there was not even a folded map in a pocket: you had to buy the earlier volume for that.

   That was the end of those wonderful inventories. Unfortunately there was not even a Friends of the RCHM to protest.




 
Nikolas Pevsner
The Pevsner Architectural Guides

   These are the books that everyone (or nearly everyone) knows, some people carry around,  others even quote from them, and if they follow the precedent set by Aldous Huxley in Brave New World,  may even swear by. However personally I am more likely to swear at!
  
  The history of the Pevsner Guides is a very different one from that of the RCHM. Sir Nikolaus Pevsner came to Britain as a refugee from Germany in 1930; he was once referred to as a 'Pedantic Prussian' by no less then John Betjeman, who, it is said, was later to write a scathing article about the Pevsner volume on County Durham, referring to the numerous errors and omissions in that volume. Pevsner, it is reported, found that in Britain, unlike other European countries, had little or no information about local architecture, especially for travellers. (Is this actually true? It would seem not to be the case in France, at least, and, in fact, the publishers of the Pevsner volumes replied to me, when I asked that if there were a similar equivalent series in France, that there was not.    But see the section on France below.) He must also have been aware of the very comprehensive RCHM volumes which began publication in 1910 (see above) but these are large, heavy volumes (although  not academic tomes) and certainly not intended as pocket sized guides. He gained the backing of Allan Lane of Penguin Books, for whom he had written a work earlier, and work began on the Pevsner Guides in 1945. Lane employed two part time assistants (both German refugees) who prepared notes from published sources. Pevsner himself spent his academic holidays touring the country making personal observations.

   The first 'Pevsner' appeared in 1951 and this was about the buildings of Cornwall. It is interesting to note that John Betjeman had begun the Shell Guides, sponsored by the oil company and aimed at the up coming breed of travelling motorists, with Cornwall in 1934.

  Each county volume begins with a foreword, and this is then followed by a lengthy introduction which deals with, in separate sections: general, geology and topography, building materials, early architecture, medieval architecture and sculptures, fortified buildings, architecture 1550-1800, small domestic buildings, the 18th-20th centuries including transport and industries, and 19th and 20th century architecture. There is variation on this general arrangement as the situation requires. You will find church monuments alluded to in the relevant sections which avoids having to trawl through the lengthy topographical section; this is just a rough guide but still very useful.

 The Pevsner volumes are very well laid out indeed and the largest section - what we might call the topographical section - is excellent and never descends into themation mode, as has been done necessarily  in the sections of the introduction. The section is arranged alphabetically according to parish which then lists separately the various buildings of interest in that parish. Some parishes have an introduction, where relevant, of varying length. In the larger towns the building list is followed by a perambulations sections (with a clearly drawn map) so you can wander round the town, Pevsner in hand and see for yourself the buildings (in the most general sense of the word) that he describes.

  Following the topographical section is a thorough glossary of terms with helpful diagrams, and then a number of separate indices for places, artists etc.

  The Pevsner volumes are therefore especially useful for the church monument hunter, being by far the best books to discover the sites of nearly all the church monuments in the British Isles. The simple slabs or tablets, which might have been of no interest to some but, nevertheless, may be of great interest to others are not, of course, included; in fact it would  be quite unfair to consider this a serious omission in books of this size. The RCHM series would have been the best source of all - allowing for the cut-off dates - but these were not - and will never now be -  completed. As mentioned above each entry for a parish there is a quite distinct church (or occasionally a churches) section and this is further divided into further subsections for general architectural overview, woodwork, stained glass, monuments etc. Note that, unlike the RCHM volumes there is one section for all types of church monuments.  Occasionally - but I am glad to say very rarely - a monument is described, presumably because the author considers it 'of importance' (as art historians are wont to say),  in the main section rather than later in the monuments list.

  Unfortunately, at least in my opinion, these volumes have their faults: as John Betjeman once commented the work has too many errors and omissions. You will find many example of the former scattered about the pages of this web site and just one example of an omission is as follows: on the east wall of the south aisle of the crypt of St Paul's Cathedral are three wall monuments all together, being to Mary Wren, Edmund Wiseman, and William Blake. I doubt if many people will know of the first two but many will be familiar with the latter and even more his poem, And Did Those Feet in Ancient Time. But Pevsner includes only the former two, as to him being more 'important'. Another type of omission seen from time to time is to label a monument, for example,    as Gen Ross, without even an initial or a date of death; this may well show carelessness, failure to check details, or that proof reading is quite inadequate. I get the impression that these volumes were somewhat rushed to publication. I am sure that these errors and omissions will be corrected in due course in later editions but I do find the frequency of them unsatisfactory in what has become a standard work.

  While agreeing that the Pevsner series is a fine achievement and very well organised, I dislike the style of the writing in these volumes. The descriptions are far too subjective, at times bordering on being arrogantly opinionated and even somewhat offensive. For example we see words such as  'ghastly', 'comic' or 'foolish'; is this really needed in such books? In Canterbury  the gilt-bronze effigy of the Black Prince (as all military monuments of that time) is referred to as 'stiff' (hardly surprising with armour of the period!) but nothing about the amazing skill of the medieval craftsmen; while in Ewelm  Alice Chaucer,  Duchess of Suffolk is referred to as 'looking like a horse'; very drole, of course. What I found particularly irritating when I visited Hereford was the petulant rant about the series of bishops' effigies in Hereford Cathedral: Pevsner may not approve but they are of curious interest and often photographed so obviously some people do find them worthwhile. What is required is an objective list and description of what is being referred to and not one man's unchallenged opinion. Where other writers have taken up the work the style remains unchanged.

  Other failures of style I find disagreeable would appear to be a lapse of good manners or even frank rudeness .One which is seen from time to time is this:...tablets by J. Joplin, 1822, and G. Green, 1837  as if the commemorated were of no importance.These books were designed as popular guides to the buildings of England not as an art historian's companion. I feel sure that the majority of people would rather read the names of the commemorated, which are often difficult to decipher owing to fading of the inscription or the height of the monument, rather than a sculptor or mason with whom they are probably quite unfamiliar. Another, which is seen  very frequently is this: ...Sir Robert Throckmorton and wife ..., that is not even his Wife,  as if his wife were of so little importance or regard that her name is not worth mentioning.

  The Pevsner are being extensively revised by others and many are in the second and a number in their third editions. I hope these criticisms - including the poor manners - will be corrected. For now I have to say that the Buildings of..... is an excellent series but I wish someone else had written it.



more to follow
France
 
 In contrast to Britain there is no similar series of books in France which list church monuments clearly and concisely as do the RCHM and Pevsner series. I once contacted the Pevsner publishers to ask if there were such books but was told that there was not.

    
   Hachette's Le Guide de Patrimoine. In the 1990's the publisher Hachette began to publish a series of books on the cultural heritage of France; only four, as far as I can tell, were actually published and then the series simply appeared to fade away. The aim appeared to be to produce a series of books similar to the Pevsner series which itself aimed to - and will eventually - cover the whole of the British Isles, and, in fact, the Hachette books were the same size and shape as the later 'elongated' Pevsner volumes. They appear to have been planned to be published as one volume per French region, that is the original  regions, but only Centre, Isle de France,  Languedoc-Rousillon, and Champagne Ardenne were actually published. Regions are big and were created in 1956, each regions consisting of a varying number of departments which are, more or less, equivalent to but generally much bigger than the British counties: for example the department Pays de la Loire consists of five actual departments. This was not such a massive undertaking as it would seem at first glance: the Pevsner volumes list all buildings of note and their contents where as the Hatchette volumes are concerned only with buildings of historical interest.

  The Hatchette volumes are beautifully illustrated. There are photographs, and reproductions of drawings, etchings and engraving as well as many maps, plans and diagrams, all within the text. In fact the series is a visual delight!

  However when it comes to the subject of church monuments the Hachette volumes are totally inadequate: church monuments rarely receive a mention at all and when they do it is a brief one in the general text rather than a short separate section. For example, in the Centre volume the lovely monument of Agnès Sorrell at Loches receives little more than a mention and no drawing or photograph at all.

  These books are not an adequate source to hunt for church monuments and certainly vastly inferior to the Pevsner volumes in this regard.

more to follow
<Top of Page>   <Home - Index - Page>